What's in the Freetronic's pipeline?

The "Eleven" is our Uno-equivalent Arduino-compatible board, but with a number of improvements including prototyping area, a mini-USB connector, LEDs mounted near the edge, and the D13 LED isolated using a FET. [Product page]
Post Reply
qwerty
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 11:54 pm

What's in the Freetronic's pipeline?

Post by qwerty » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:04 am

I guess this post is actually directed to the Freetronics engineers, but I welcome opinions from all.

My own background is in analog electronics, and I thought I would give Arduino/Freetronics a try because it is just so easy to program and get projects up and running. After a day or so I can make the Freetronics11/UNO do pretty much anything I want, and understand it's strengths and weaknesses.

Arduino is tantalizing close to being useful for the kind of one-off projects I am familiar with implementing in analog, but the analog accuracy and 10-bit resolution just don't cut it for anything serious, not to mention the absence of a DAC in the UNO.The relatively low speed certainly rules out some projects, but there are plently more where speed is entirely adequate.

The Arduino DUE is certainly better, with 12-bit resolution, DAC output and superior speed, but the analog accuracy and resolution is still not really there.

So to my first question for Freetronics. Do you have any plans to make a DUE compatible board? That is not really so important, as those that need slightly better analog performance can always buy the 'genuine' DUE.

More importantly, what I would really like, and be prepared to pay for, is an Arduino compatible board with 16-bit ADC and DAC. That would make Arduino really useful for professionals/students/technicians/researchers etc that need to build custom and one-off instruments in industry and research.

This is a huge market that is currently served in large part by PCI and USB based boards (eg from National Instruments) that need a PC/screen/keyboard to run, as well as software such as LabView. While that is often a good (though generally not cheap) solution to running a complete experiment, it does not address the common need to build medium-performance, custom, standalone instruments.

And so I ask Freetronics, do you agree there is a large market out there for Arduino compatible boards with 16-bit analog performance, and do you think it worthwhile developing such a board? Like Rapberry Pi, Arduino Galileo gives us more computing power, but does not address the needs that I have discussed. How about it?

angusgr
Freetronics Staff
Freetronics Staff
Posts: 853
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:19 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: What's in the Freetronic's pipeline?

Post by angusgr » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:06 pm

I think I can answer two things, the others may have more they can add.

There is an EtherDue board currently being prototyped that we plan to formally announce soon.

Regarding ADC/DAC boards, I personally would love to do some high precision analog stuff. There are some caveats to doing this stuff in a hobbyist environment though - even if the design of the board is good enough to guarantee better accuracy than the standard Arduino ADC/DAC features, the rest of the environment (underlying board, power, other connections, etc.) have to be good enough as well, or the noise level can easily eat up a lot of the benefits. Which is a complex factor when you're designing things for general hobbyist use.

That's not to see we won't ever do one, though, as I said I'd personally love to design one.

qwerty
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 11:54 pm

Re: What's in the Freetronic's pipeline?

Post by qwerty » Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:25 am

angusgr wrote:I think I can answer two things, the others may have more they can add.

There is an EtherDue board currently being prototyped that we plan to formally announce soon.

Regarding ADC/DAC boards, I personally would love to do some high precision analog stuff. There are some caveats to doing this stuff in a hobbyist environment though - even if the design of the board is good enough to guarantee better accuracy than the standard Arduino ADC/DAC features, the rest of the environment (underlying board, power, other connections, etc.) have to be good enough as well, or the noise level can easily eat up a lot of the benefits. Which is a complex factor when you're designing things for general hobbyist use.

That's not to see we won't ever do one, though, as I said I'd personally love to design one.
Thanks Angus. I have a suggestion re your EtherDue and maybe the Due as well. As things stand, the Due is the only Arduino board that does not have any EEPROM storage, which is a real nuisance for the large number of projects that require non-volatile storage of calibration constants/tables or device configuration. Which is exactly the kind of project I am interested in. How about providing some onboard EEPROM, and making it easily accessible in the same way as with the other boards?

Re an Arduino/Freetronics board with precision ADC/DAC, and of course good speed and digital I/O as well, please be guided by your passion and think seriously about it. I hear what you are saying about the potential problems of actually achieving precision analog specs on a digital board, but it is certainly possible and done routinely on a vast number of multifunction boards produced to run under LabView, for example. I also realize that the general hobbyist may sometimes degrade the specs through poor layout etc, but I'm also sure that there are many hobbyists that are quite capable of usefully exploiting better than the mediocre 10 or 12 bit precision of the Arduino boards currently available. Perhaps more importantly, the existence of a higher performance Freetronics/Arduino board would open up a new market segment of technicians, engineers, academics and researchers that are probably already aware of Arduino, and would use it for a variety of one-off projects if a higher-performance board was available.

Go for it!

angusgr
Freetronics Staff
Freetronics Staff
Posts: 853
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:19 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: What's in the Freetronic's pipeline?

Post by angusgr » Fri Oct 11, 2013 1:13 am

qwerty wrote: Re an Arduino/Freetronics board with precision ADC/DAC, and of course good speed and digital I/O as well, please be guided by your passion and think seriously about it. I hear what you are saying about the potential problems of actually achieving precision analog specs on a digital board, but it is certainly possible and done routinely on a vast number of multifunction boards produced to run under LabView, for example. I also realize that the general hobbyist may sometimes degrade the specs through poor layout etc, but I'm also sure that there are many hobbyists that are quite capable of usefully exploiting better than the mediocre 10 or 12 bit precision of the Arduino boards currently available. Perhaps more importantly, the existence of a higher performance Freetronics/Arduino board would open up a new market segment of technicians, engineers, academics and researchers that are probably already aware of Arduino, and would use it for a variety of one-off projects if a higher-performance board was available.

Go for it!
This is a sound point, thanks for making it so passionately. Before I came to Freetronics I worked as a digital controls specialist at a university, so I know that good quality devices of this kind are thin on the ground. Maybe I'm too pessimistic. :)

- Angus

Post Reply